Monday, July 4, 2011

Just add (less) water

Bear stands at the bottom of the stairs anxiously shifting her weight from one paw to another. A thin line of drool spills from the corner of her mouth as I return to the entryway carrying two dog bowls full of food.

Murdoch scrambles from the wooden chair whose seat he stood on with his front paws to peer through the spindles into the kitchen and watch me pour kibble into the bowls. It sounds like he has eight feet instead of four as he spins around, then he lifts his leg on the threshold of his kennel. I stop mid-stride, stunned for a minute as I watch the dark stain spread out in a circle from the corner of his blanket.

“Murdoch, no! Bad!” I say as I put the bowls of food on top of his kennel. “Outside.” He stops peeing and trots to the door where I hook him on his line and send him out.

“What the hell?” I say to his retreating form and then to myself as I turn back to the kennel and start carefully gathering up his blanket. “If he had to pee why didn’t he ask? And why would he pee on his own bed?” I look at Bear who continues to drool on the floor while eyeing the bowls where I put them out of reach. “Um, I still get to eat supper though, right?”

As I stuff Murdoch’s blanket into the washing machine I try to think if there was some clue I missed. Did he ask to go out and I didn’t notice? But when I appeared to collect their dishes for dinner, Murdoch was lying on the floor in a relaxed sprawl. Perhaps he didn’t realize he had to pee until he leapt up at the utterance of the word “supper” and then he was too distracted by thoughts of food to even consider going outside.

His bladder must have been bursting I realized, feeling like a delinquent dog owner. He had gone swimming earlier, which means he probably drank about a gallon of water, but he never said anything. Usually, Murds is not a dog who keeps his opinions to himself, but for some reason in the three years he’s lived with us he has only ever asked to go out a handful of times.

The first winter we lived in our house Murdoch spent half a day outside eating every scrap of snow I shoveled from the roof and the path and the driveway. That evening while I sat in the kitchen and heard water running, it took me a minute to realize it was coming from the entryway. When I looked over my shoulder, I found Murdoch, leg cocked, flooding the tiles around the woodstove.

Last summer when Morgan and I took the dogs to a river near our home for a day of swimming, Murdoch drank so much water it later leaked out of him while he slept on the floor. Twice I found him lying in a big puddle of water as though it had seeped through his skin and I thought for a while there was something wrong with him. Later I realized he just doesn’t have any self-control and would probably drain the entire river if we let him.

I hear Murdoch’s feet pad purposefully across the deck and then his face appears at the screen door. “Murds, you have to tell me when you need to go out,” I say as I let him back in. He storms past me, completely unconcerned, and clatters into his kennel. He sits politely on the now bare metal floor and fixes me with his wide-eyed, expectant stare. I shake my head as I reach for the bowls of food and silently wish for the conscience of a dog.


  1. Do we ever completely know our dogs? I hope it's just a one-off.

  2. Good question... Murdoch especially is always a giant question mark.